Host Partner Feature: University of Alaska Anchorage

The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) is hosting our Global UGRAD students for the second time, and we are proud to feature them this month. Gökhan Karahan works directly with our Global UGRAD students and shares his perspective on the international student experience.

Gökhan Karahan, Chair of the Department of Accounting & Finance at the College of Business and Public Policy at the University of Alaska Anchorage

How long have you been working at the University of Alaska Anchorage? What is your role?

I have been here at the University of Alaska Anchorage since August 2013. I started as an Assistant Professor of Accounting and Finance and am now Chair of the Department of Accounting & Finance at the College of Business and Public Policy.

What does your orientation for international students involve?

The International Student Orientation and Global Seawolves Welcome involve learning about resources on campus, regulations that apply to them, and getting to know each other. However, I provide my own orientation by introducing them to the campus environment, the city of Anchorage, shopping, and initial sightseeing.

Can you briefly describe a handful of campus clubs, events, and/or programs that are designed with international students in mind?

The International Student Organization is a strong club with a multitude of events. Their most recent event was a celebration for Mexican Independence Day. This club is open to all students, but the focus is on bringing international students together. At the beginning of each semester, the Multicultural Student Services (MSS) also hosts Global Seawolves Connect. This is an event specifically for international students to meet each other and get to know our space and programs. We also have ongoing drop-in events for students to connect. Moreover, MSS hosts ongoing programming that is not specific to but often well attended by international students. They include the Being Series – affinity spaces for people to unpack identity (we recently hosted Being Latine and Hispanic which a handful of international students attended) as well as BIPOC Connect and Rainbow Connect, two events similar to the Global Seawolves Connect. MSS Wellness Wednesdays, Crafternoons, and Rainbow Socials are all drop-in events hosted in our space and open to all students.

What sets the University of Alaska Anchorage apart from other U.S. universities?

In the words of one of my dear friends, Jennifer Wisel: “Firstly, it’s the location itself. The Alaska experience is beyond comparison!  Surrounded by a fantastic landscape, this beautiful and thoughtfully laid-out campus is nestled right in the heart of Anchorage with 101 things to do on any given day. Campus life at any time of the year offers many ways to stay active; inside or outside. Alaska summers are amazing. Whether you’re into hiking, fishing, camping, or maybe into the music scene there’s an adventure awaiting!

Secondly, UAA is more affordable than most universities, has a very diverse student population, and has the very best faculty and staff – their sole purpose is to make the student experience great!  Just to mention a few benefits of UAA – small student-to-faculty ratio, research opportunities for undergrads and beyond, engagement and career opportunities with local community partners.”

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

My usual on-campus trail and the beautiful view out of my third-floor window.

Please share a positive takeaway or memorable story from your work with Global UGRADs.

Long ago, I came to the United States as an exchange student, as well. I cannot forget about my American foster family’s impact on my worldview and my drive toward contributing to and being part of internationalization efforts. I still keep in touch with my foster family in Minnesota. We are unique and diverse yet share so many things that make us think that we can be more accepting and have a more tolerant worldview. My nostalgic experiences will be in my heart forever, and I hope to give back as much as I can. I have too many great stories to list here, but I feel extremely privileged to be part of their cultural/educational journey. I continue to stay in touch with my exchange students (from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Pakistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan) in my previous experience as a campus advisor for the UGRAD programs at Delta State University (The Land of the Fighting Okra!). At the end of the day, as Rumi said, if we “listen with ears of tolerance, see through the eyes of compassion, and speak with the language of love,” the whole world will be a better place.